Mesa Redonda is the main wholesale market in Peru’s capital and in 2020 it became one of the main hotspots of the new coronavirus.
Porter Olinda Cerron Sotomayor poses for a portrait at the Mesa Redonda Market, where she's working after being without work for four months, in Lima, Peru, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. The 71-year-old said she had to move after failing to pay rent, and that while her son recovered from COVID-19, she has been taking care of herself with natural remedies.
At least 300,000 people come daily to buy food or basic goods, and they have kept coming despite the pandemic.
Roxana Alicia Wong poses for a portrait in her mask and a face shield amid the new coronavirus pandemic. She works as a medical supplies salesperson, and was at the market buying personal protection equipment in bulk. "I haven't seen my parents for months, but I have to help a lot of people with this work," said Wong.
Photographer Rodrigo Abd brought a wooden camera – a box with a lens and space for a developing lab inside – to take black and white portraits of people who were at the market because they needed to keep living, with or without COVID-19.
Eva Fernandez poses for a portrait wearing a protective suit and a mask to curb the spread of the new coronavirus at the Mesa Redonda market where she sells Christmas ornaments in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. "There's a lot of risk out there," said Fernandez, who suffers from asthma.
The elderly have been some of the most vulnerable people during the pandemic. Arnulfo Ramírez is one of the vulnerable but makes a living these days by selling candy on the streets around the market.
At 75 years old and single, with no kids, he says he is generally a grumpy man who doesn’t often have good things to say about people.
But this year he got a lesson in humility when a stranger gave him a bag of food one day when he hadn't had anything to eat.
“I’ve realized that there are still some good people,” Ramírez said.
Peru passed 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus infections a few days ago. It was the fifth country in Latin America to surpass that number, and it has been one of the most affected in the region.
Maria Asuncion shops wearing a mask and a face shield during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 90-year-old used to live alone but now during the pandemic, she is being cared for by her grandson.
"I wake up praying in my house. God has fed me," said Asuncion, who added that she was very afraid to go out of her home for months.
City street sweepers Angelo Paz Soldan (R), Teodosia Tito (C), and Biviana Torres Aderiano pose for a portrait in their uniforms and masks.
"This pandemic was very hard for us," said Torres Alderiano, who has eight co-workers who have died from COVID-19.
"I'm very afraid of catching it, but thank God we are in good health, always taking all necessary care," she said.
Peru, with a population of 32 million people, declared a total lockdown in March and ordered people to stay home trying to contain the virus, but as the pandemic kept going and people needed to find ways of living, many ignored the rules and went out.
Members of the music group Rimac Show pose for a portrait at the Mesa Redonda Market. "Before the pandemic, we played in discos and events,” said Jesus Sierra, second from right, the lead singer of the band made up of Venezuelan migrants.
“Now we live off tips, but we keep moving forward,” he said.
Daniel Torres, 44, was one of the people who were on the streets despite the lockdown.
He is a street vendor and had nothing to eat, he said, so he was forced to go out. These days, he sells mosquito nets.
"Fighting, that's how we live," he said, adding that he knew three fellow vendors who died of COVID-19, and that he isolated himself at home for six months.
Julia Dariva Cerro after dying her hair at her new hair salon at the Mesa Redonda market.
Cerro said she lost her previous job due to the pandemic. "Thanks to the pandemic I became a stronger and more determined woman," adding that she learned from the tragedy.
"I always say that you have to live without fear of the future," she said.
Wearing a Santa hat, Venezuelan migrant Erika Viera poses for a portrait with the Christmas decorations she sells at the Mesa Redonda Market.
"It's not easy to work on the street for Venezuelan migrants like me," said Viera, who lost her job due to the lockdown, and had to move to a cheaper place after not being able to make rent.
Venezuelan migrant David Gomez sells cigarettes and chocolates within his portable display case at the Mesa Redonda Market.
"The pandemic is stronger for migrants," said Gomez. "You have to have a heart of stone to resist. Almighty God allowed us to survive, and I hope this situation helps us to unite as human beings," he said.
Bernan Castro poses for a portrait with his 74-year-old mother Placida Yaconsa at the Mesa Redonda Market.
"I'm a carpenter and I don't have a job because all the clients are broke," said Castro, who added he lost his dad to COVID-19 and that he himself was hospitalized with the virus for over a month.
Maria Isabel Medina Flores poses for a portrait while shopping at the Mesa Redonda market where she used to work as a cook.
Flores said that the eatery she worked at had to close due to health restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
"The pandemic has been catastrophic for us. We are just recovering little by little," she said.
Holding a microphone, journalist Gyofred Wilder Robinzon and 6-year-old Isaias pose for a portrait at the Mesa Redonda market.
Isaias, whose family works at the market, jumped unexpectedly into the portrait with Robinzon, who was there working on a news story.
"In my work as a journalist I see the many needs and the suffering of people," Robinzon said.
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